Blisters are a common part of the running community — especially newbies before their feet toughen-up. I’ve been consistently running for 17 years now and had my share of blisters in the first seven or so years. But since I started paying attention to my shoe fit, I mean really paying attention, I am happy to report no significant blisters in the past 10 years. Those years saw a number of marathons and ultra-marathons and lots of races and long runs.
So, what did I change? The secret was simple — a meticulous and ever present concentration on the connection between my feet and my shoes. Most notably with the pressure on each square centimeter of the bottom of my feet. Now, there are lots of other factors in the form of advice that the shoe salespeople, the running magazine guides, and my friends are quick to recommend that all have their place:
- Make sure the shoe is large enough
- Buy the right type of shoe for your foot: neutral, stability, cushioned, motion control, light-weight trainers, etc.
- Use pre-made inserts, that you can purchase at the running store, etc.
- Wear clean, extremely-well-fitting socks.
And, to be sure, you should heed this advice at a high-level. For serious mechan-ical problems, there are professionally-made orthopedics. While I have never had any, I have had a cast made. However, the $300 price tag kept me away.
Then I discovered two products at the local grocery/drug store that revolutionized my shoe fit: moleskin, and mole-foam. The foam is thicker as you can image. The moleskin is like a thick, fuzzy bandaid. Both come in sheets or roles about 3″ wide and 6″ long.
Now, here comes the secret. I put on a new pair of running shoes, then walk/jog around concentrating very hard on where the bottom of my feet touch the insole with heavy pressure, with light pressure, and where they do not touch at all. Then I remove the insoles, and using a pair of sissors cut the sheet of moleskin/foam in a shape that matches the light pressure part of my foot. Typically for me this will be in the arch area as I have very high arches. I then trim off a small piece of the backing from the cut moleskin/foam section and stick the section to the underside of the insole; replace the insole, then walk/jog around some more.
I repeat this process over and over until the shoe pressure is perfectly even all over the sole of my foot. Then, I remove the entire backing of the cut pieces of moleskin/foam and stick the pieces to the back of the insole permanently in the proper place. Next, out for a run — not too long at first. Sometimes I even carry moleskin and a cheap pair of blunt school sizzors with me to modify the home-made orthotics on the run. Typically, after a few runs, and minor refinements, the shoe-fit is perfect: comfortable runs, no foot injuries, and no blisters.
Three last things:
- I know insole/shoe manufactures and certainly podiatrists will be aghast at my writing this since I have no professional training in this discipline. I’m not saying that professionally-made orthotics do not have their place. And, if you have serious foot issues, by all means seek professional advice. What I am saying is that this technique has worked for me. You’re on-your-own.
- Back to the first section. At the store, shoes must fit pretty well in the first place. I have very narrow feet and have a hard time finding shoes that start out narrow enough. They must fit just as precisely from side-to-side as they do on the bottom. I usually take the modified inserts out of my old shoes and try them in the new shoes at the store to get a better idea of how the shoes could eventually fit.
- For me, socks also play a huge role and must fit as snugly as your shoes.